ZANESVILLE – It seems the suspense is over for those following the career of Malik Bocook.
After careful deliberation, Zanesville’s All-Ohio forward verbally committed to Division II Alderson Broaddus (W. Va.) on Monday.
The school is located in Phillipi, 176 miles from Zanesville and about an hour south of Morgantown.
“I really like the coaches and the players,” Bocook said. “I wanted to go there with the chemistry I had with the guys on the team. The coach is great. … They’re really good people down there.”
The Battlers, who were 22-7 in 2014-15, play in the Great Midwest Conference. Zanesville assistant Cedric Harris was a first-team All-American at nearby West Liberty just two years ago and Bocook admitted that was his first choice, but the Hilltoppers were unable to offer a scholarship the first year.
That was not an option Bocook was interested in exploring.
“(Zanesville) coach (Scott Aronhalt) and my dad both agreed that I’m too good to not go to college for free,” Bocook said. “Alderson Broaddus offered a full scholarship.”
Aronhalt said Bocook had “plenty of choices” and was thorough in his investigation when finding the right fit athletically, academically and socially.
His program has consistently produced college players who stay at four-year schools and Bocook has been among the best in terms of production.
“They’re getting a steal,” Aronhalt said. “He’s a really good player and he’s still developing.”
Bocook also appreciated that coach Greg Zimmerman was very persistent in his recruitment, attending several of his games at Zanesville and his all-star games, in addition to regular text messages.
Zimmerman has a 304-98 record the last 13 seasons with nine trips to the NCAA tournament.
“They win a lot,” Bocook said. “And just the caring. That is what played a big part in my decision. I wanted to play for someone that cared about me more than just a basketball player.”
The 6-4 Bocook played mostly in the post during his three-year career as a starter with the Blue Devils, but he displayed a dangerous all-around game as a senior, when he averaged 19.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. He had eight games of 20 or more points.
Should he sign the letter of intent, he will be one of five Ohio natives on the Battlers’ roster.
Bocook said he has already been accepted by the university, but needs to improve slightly on his ACT score of 16, a test he completed again Saturday.
“I need a 17,” Bocook said. “I feel pretty good about it.”
He also said his classmate, point guard Ramon Wilson, will visit Alderson Broaddus on Friday to work out for the coaches and visit campus.
“We’re trying to make it a package deal,” Bocook said.
Bocook said he already misses playing for the Blue Devils, where he started three years and was a part of teams that won no less than 18 games per season.
Aronhalt, who lauded Bocook’s work ethic, said he was participating in open gym workouts last week with the current Blue Devils.
“I just miss putting the jersey on and playing for Coach A,” Bocook said. “That was a blessing. I don’t think there’s a better coach in the state.”